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Apologetics: Evangelistic Strategy (Lecture 3 of 4)

Apologetics Index
Date: MAY-19-01
Source: Evangelism and Apologetics Conference, Living Hope OPC, Pastor: Tristan Emmanuel
Keywords: mission, partnership, persuasion, opposition
Comment: These notes were taken on a laptop during live lectures. Due to transcription errors and subsequent editing, these notes may not accurately reflect the original lecture content.
Posted: JUN-26-01

LECTURE 3: Strategy and Method of Discipleship by Rev. Tristan Emmanuel

We have a cause to work on. We have a mission from Christ. Matt 28:18- 20. Paul spent time reasoning and persuading people in week after week. We actually have to go out and make disciples of other men. Donít do it in a disingenuous (fake) way; rather make disciples of men as the Lord opens the door. We have lots of reasons to delay evangelism. Some are asking ďWhat am I going to say?Ē How can I present the truths of scripture to the unbelieverís mind? How do I answer an educated unbeliever? Where do we begin to display our faith to others? We need to invest time and effort to learn how to effectively address the mind of the unbeliever. We need evangelistic zeal. There are too many of us who donít really care to go out and evangelize. If there was anyone with good reason to give up the vision for discipling the church, it was the apostle Paul. He had many significant reasons to give up and to do something easier.

Letís put ourselves in Paulís shoes as he entered Corinth. Earlier he had to flee Thesolonica in fear for his life (Acts 17:10). Jews are following him in an effort to kill him. The Jews were using the Roman system to oppress the Christian mission work. They were enduring this kind of persecution and yet continued in the Lordís commission. Paul entered Athens the centre of philosophy Ė unbelieving ďwisdom.Ē He begins to reason with them. For the Athenians (who were dualists) the ideal state would definitely NOT be restoration to a resurrected body. So they repudiated the notion of God appearing as man in a body. Nevertheless, Paul proclaims the truth of Jesus boldly.

Paul traveled to Corinth from Athens (Acts 18:2). Paul must have been repulsed by the paganism, debauchery, and unbelief of the Corinth. However, Paul stayed there and worked and preached. His consistent strategy is to establish a core group of people with which to work. This Jew Aquila had a similar background with Paul as a tent maker. Both traveled a great deal. Both were strangers in Corinth with a common cause. Often when we pray to the Lord to give us opportunities for evangelism, he provides us partners in the work. Pray, Lord give us opportunity. Pray for a core group of like-minded believers to work with. Establish a beacon head for God. Whether we are called to be tentmakers, or whether we are pastors, we are all called to evangelize. The purpose of the core group is not that it can exist as a little entity all to itself. The purpose of mission groups is to bring people in, not to keep people out. We need to make effort to bring people of non-Christian background to these core groups.

We are growing internally. Training children in the fear of God is an important way to fill the earth with God-fearing people. But in our Reformed churches the prime-directive of evangelism is often neglected.

Many who embrace a philosophy of death will eventually kill themselves off. Eventually a faithful church will embrace principles of dominion (i.e., life). Thus it will expect to grow and expand and fill the earth. Jesus is Saviour of all the nations. But North American Reformed churches are almost becoming irrelevant. We have all the silly little disputes. We a virtually get up on arms over whether we should homeschool, or Christian school. (digression: homeschooling is a very good way to disciple your children. But it is not an issue of orthodoxy that you train your Children at home, over a Christian School). Paulís group at Corinth had ministry projects. Our groupsí purpose today, is to bring in the people out there. Make that your project. Paul was an apostle, he was particularly called by God to do this work. Establish a core group of people and begin to do simple, but effective work.

We generally see our own kind when we attend a Reformed church. When did you last see a non-Christian grace the doors of your church? Were you prepared when they arrived to disciple them in worship and obedience to God? Paul reasoned every day on the Sabbath and reasoned with both Jews and Greeks. He was afraid; he is speaking from the heart, even as an Apostle. There is nothing you need more than Jesus Christ. Some donít want Jesus. That is an honest statement. But without Him there is no hope for you. All the money and pleasure you may have will be nothing for you on the day of judgment. God will call the elect, but never forget that the method of the call is the hearing of the Word preached. There are elect persons out there who are waiting to hear the call. You donít need to know a lot of philosophy. All you need to know is that people are dead in sin, and going to hell, therefore they need Jesus Christ. Paul is saying, I didnít use trickery (sophistry) in the presentation of the gospel. He hit the people with the basic truths of the gospel. He didnít try to get people impressed with his own speaking ability. We are told in Acts 18:4 that he reasoned in the synagogue. He gave a reasoned defense of the gospel, he propounded the truth. He didnít offer nice little stories, or suggestions. The faith is reasonable, and defensible. It is more than a blind, near-sighted, sentimental belief. It is real, true and reasonable. Every argument coming your way objecting to the truth can be answered with the truth. Donít tell them your experience. Respond to unbelievers with the truth. What are the reasons you donít get out there?

The Lord encourages Paul, ďDo not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.Ē Acts 18:9,10

Note: Next year we plan to continue the series on evangelism and eschatology. How does you view of eschatology influence your disciple making? Donít think the church in North America characterizes the church world-wide. The future of the church, and the kingdom of God in history, is bright.

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